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Alumni Profile

A new breed of nurse

Fifty years ago, Margaret Hart was part of a new era for nursing students at MU — the first class to take its clinical training in the then-new medical center (see below for a slideshow of images from that 1958 nursing class.) Before that time, nursing students took courses on campus but had to finish clinical rotations in St. Louis.

“We couldn’t do clinicals on campus because the hospital in Noyes Hall was too small,” says Hart, BSN ’58, of Columbia. “And we couldn’t go to Boone Hospital because they didn’t have faculty to supervise us.”

In 1958, MU’s much larger medical center could accommodate the student nurses. But Hart’s story is about more than just bricks and mortar, and mortar boards.>

“This was a period of professionalization in nursing,” she says. “It was early during the time when nurses got not only a well-rounded college education, but also a strong education specific to nursing. We had more professional teachers, graduates got professional-level jobs, and many graduates taught nursing right out of school.”

Hart became one of those “instant” professors. During student days, she was on a surgery rotation and scrubbed for some of the early open-heart surgeries. After graduating in 1958, she taught operating room nursing until she married in 1961 and left to raise a family — Dale Smith

Adobe Flash version 8, or higher, and Java Script are required to view the slide show for this feature story.